Tools » Risk Assessment

Risk Assessment

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Safety Management System provides tools to improve safety at the organization level (manufacturer, school, club), but the pilots need something more basic for their everyday’s pratice. The purpose of the Risk Assessment table is to provide a “safety Swiss knife” to be used while making decision. It can be downloaded here:

   

Initial Table

Risks can be defined mathematically in a rather simple way, as the likelihood of hazards multiplied by their consequences. To the question “Am I going to hurt myself?”, instead of “It should be OK, let’s go!”, this table is a more structured answer. We are all different at assessing risks, some have a strong preservation instinct, some are self-confident and like thrill. This tool helps taking time, stepping back and watching calmly the situation. It simplifies the SMS hazard identification process, making it easy to know by heart and use in an instant, before or during a flight.

 

Hazards

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Chance \ Effects Catastrophic Manageable Negligible
Probable HIGH HIGH Serious
Occasional HIGH Serious Low
Improbable Serious Low Low

                                  ___________________________________________

                                     Risks

 

Hazards

_________________________________________________________

Chance \ Effects Catastrophic Manageable Negligible
Probable HIGH HIGH Serious
Occasional HIGH Serious Low
Improbable Serious Low Low

                                  _________________________________________

                                      Risks

 

The green zone represents where flying looks reasonable, the conservative approach. In the yellow zone, other factors should be assessed: personal worries (divorce, unemployment), “currency” (first flight of season, new equipment), pressure (short on time), fitness (tiredness), weather… One may enter this zone, but staying aware that the odds are higher. The red zone gives access to the statistics. “Is this flight worth my life, the catastrophy for my family, the mourning of my friends and club, the bad impact on my sport?” The decision should be just not to fly. Some examples: aerobatics cannot be green as an adverse outcome is at least possible, cliff or towed launches cannot either as the effects can be catastrophic.

More generally, being a weather expert is considered as normal for pilots. They should have the same expertise in launch and landing skills, psychology and safety knowledge, especially about the human factor. Meanwhile, let us remind the traffic light: “Am I going to fly in the green zone, or in the yellow or red one?” Let us enjoy the green!

                                                                                                             Raymond Caux (2015)

Mike’s Table

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In 2018, Mike Meier (Wills Wing & HGMA) criticized that approach: The 3 NASA catastrophic accidents all involved this failure to understand probability – in each case (…) the probability of the outcome was rated as low. (…) decisions that impact safety are really independent of probability. (…) at 1% probability of failure, 18 repetitions (…) result in a cumulative probability of catastrophe of 1 chance in 6 – the same as Russian Roulette. Mike proposes this table:

 

Hazards

_____________________________________________________________

Chance \ Effects Catastrophic Manageable Negligible
Probable HIGH Serious Low
Occasional HIGH Serious Low
Improbable HIGH Serious Low

                                  ___________________________________________

                                     Risks

 

Hazards

_________________________________________________________

Chance \ Effects Catastrophic Manageable Negligible
Probable HIGH Serious Low
Occasional HIGH Serious Low
Improbable HIGH Serious Low

                                  _________________________________________

                                        Risks

 

Conservative Table

So, the risk definition above here and Mike Meier’s perspective are in contradiction. Anyway, you understand the general idea: you want to fly in the right low corner of the grid. Keeping the highest rates, we get this “2020 edition”:

 

Hazards

_____________________________________________________________

Chance \ Effects Catastrophic Manageable Negligible
Probable HIGH HIGH Serious
Occasional HIGH Serious Low
Improbable HIGH Serious Low

                                  ___________________________________________

                                     Risks

 

Hazards

_________________________________________________________

Chance \ Effects Catastrophic Manageable Negligible
Probable HIGH HIGH Serious
Occasional HIGH Serious Low
Improbable HIGH Serious Low

                                  _________________________________________

                                        Risks